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Borderline: A Confluence of Creeks

I went exploring on our land recently, on a blustery winter day, clad in rubber boots, a beanie and a heavy coat. Despite the foul weather, mist fogging my glasses, it felt good to get outside after a rainy weekend kept me cooped up inside, mainly working on my graduate course.

Although we have lived on Three Geese Farm for two-and-a-half years, the part of our 57-acre property that is east of Glade Creek remains somewhat of a mystery. I was aware that Witcher Creek empties into Glade Creek but didn’t realize until recently that the confluence is actually right at the bridge on Mackey Road, which runs in front of our place, about 100 yards down the hill. With the foliage gone, it became more obvious, so I felt it necessary to further explore.

The only way to get to where the creeks merge is to walk down Mackey Road’s shoulder to the bridge. The ground is so sodden that my rubber boots kept sinking into the mud, making sucking sounds as I picked up my feet. The wind swirled around, and I tightened my hood to protect my ears.

Witcher Creek starts in western Upshur County and meanders northeastward into Gregg County, crossing Big Woods Road, which is a pleasant, curvy two-lane road just west of our place. When we first moved here, the bridge on Big Woods, which Witcher Creek flows beneath, had been washed away. A friend who lives on Big Woods said before the bridge was rebuilt the water would flow over the bridge after a rainfall. Replacing the bridge took several years because of the materials shortage during the pandemic. Folks who lived north of the bridge had no choice but to come down Mackey Road to get to town, while those who lived south of it had to go to Hamby Road.

The new bridge is sturdy and substantial. Big Woods Road is a pleasant shortcut for us to get to our dog groomer or take the back roads through East Mountain to eventually hit I-20 for a visit to Dallas or Denton. The road is curvy, lined with substantial houses, oil rigs and gas wells, which are still operating, as they are at our place. A rusted iron oil horse slowly rocks behind the shop, a working gas well sits in a gravel parking lot, in front of Pancho’s Pond. Warning signs about buried gas pipelines greet visitors at our driveway’s entrance.

I cautiously made my way down the slope beneath the Mackey Road bridge, trucks whizzing by, their drivers doubtless wondering what this old dude was doing. From under the bridge, I spied several pipelines crossing both creeks. A narrow spit of land separates Witcher and Glade Creeks before they conjoin. The little boy that occasionally still lurks inside me was plotting a way to get on that sliver of muddy clay. Then the 68-year-old man reemerged to remind me that falling into either creek in 40-degree weather would not be a pleasant experience.

In my previous rambles along the banks of Glade Creek, the closer creek to our property, all manner of pipes stick out from the eroded banks, suspended in air. The remains of a pipe bridge still cross the creek but is unrepairable. Glade Creek’s banks are about 15 feet deep. Much of the fence along the eastern part of our property was flattened during when Glade Creek got out of banks, some time before we moved here. My little brother Gregg and I hope to work on uprighting it by using the forks on the tractor once spring arrives.

The wind kicks up as I slowly pick my way back up the slope to the road. When it warms up and dries out a bit more, I plan to walk farther along Witcher Creek, see a piece of our land rarely visited except by four-legged critters — feral hogs, coyotes, deer and bobcats.

Something to look forward to.